This one received the comment “half my bloody plate is empty!”
Panache is what Le Fooding restaurant and hotel guide describes as a “néo bistrot”, roughly translated as a new-style bistrot. Neo bistrots often have tasteful, modern decor, and present traditional French cuisine in an innovative way (in some cases with a gastronomic twist). Which you could be forgiven for thinking it sounds quite exciting.
In my case however, it has come to mean that my husband, who admittedly knows his stuff when it comes to food, will have a rant at key points during the meal: on receiving the menu, at discovering that they only have organic wine, and on being forced to eat kale.
His general positioning on neo bistrot cooking is that it just sprung out of nowhere and doesn’t really add anything to traditional bistrot meals. This is worth debating and will be the subject of a subsequent post!
In any case, whatever ones view of neo bistrots, Panache definitely falls into this category. And as a quick sum up, it was a good dining experience.
The food was great (more on that in a bit), the decor is modern and tasteful, and the tables are a decent size and well spaced. Which avoids the necessity of getting intimately acquainted with your neighbours’ elbows, as is so often the case here.
The staff were also friendly, although I had the following conversation when I made the booking:
Me: Hi, I’d like to book a table for 2 at 1.30pm tomorrow please. Will that be possible? (Apparently I said the latter in a higher pitch)
Panache bloke: Well you said “will that be possible?” in such a cutesy voice that I’ll see what I can do.
The cheek of it. It made me laugh at the time though. And apparently the technique works because I got the booking.
Back to the food. We had two different starters. My husband chose beef back steak (or “onglet de boeuf”), shiitake mushrooms and kale, and I had what they called velouté of corn with a what they called “a perfect egg”.
The beef (see pic above) was ok but the kale didn’t impress (it provoked a neo-bistrot-moment), and everything about the velouté and the egg were delicious:
We had the same main course – chicken with pear and “heliantis” (the only translation I can find of this is the root of the pale-leaved sunflower) – all of which was truly lovely.
Followed by one dessert which was Parisian flan with a mandarin sauce, again very nice:
In summary, would I recommend Panache? Yes, definitely, because the food was great. However is it fundamentally different to any of the other neo bistrots that were fashionable for a time (L’Office, Vivant Cave, etc.)? No, not really.
Still worth a visit if you’re in the 9th district sometime soon though.